How to Start Kayak Fishing in 6 Easy Steps

Fishing from a kayak is an amazing outdoor adventure best for all anglers regardless of the experience. The sport allows you to fish anywhere from remote waters, shallow ends, and rivers. Besides, a kayak is cheaper, simple to use, easy to transport, and helps you exercise as you immerse yourself in nature.

But, there is a catch:

You have to get the right gear and master the basics before heading out. Here I will give you the kayak fishing tips that will help you get started.

Top kayak fishing tips for beginners

1.    Invest in the right kayak

There is no one perfect kayak that suits all. Each type is designed to work in a particular scenario. Some are good for rivers, others for lakes, bays, streams, or the ocean. A good fishing kayak for beginners should be very stable which can be achieved by having a wide cockpit.

Here are other things to guide you when choosing the best kayak for fishing:

  • Try before buying– People have different opinions about the best kayak for fishing. So, you won’t know what is best for you based on online reviews and experience alone. You got to try various kayaks before you settle on one. Contact local dealers for demo events or rent out kayaks until you get one that is comfortable and easy to maneuver.


  • Consider the size and the width- Most fishing kayaks are 10 to 14 feet. Shorter and wider ones are best for beginners. They are easy to maneuver and offer more stability on the waters. You should also ensure the kayak has enough room to store the tackle and mount fishing accessories.



  • Price- Fishing kayaks come in different price ranges. While some are affordable, others are expensive. As a beginner, don’t be too hard on the budget as you will get what you pay for. Always go for the best kayak you can afford, as it might be expensive to buy a cheaper one and upgrade later.

  • Features- Ensure the kayak you buy has comfortable seats, sonar mounting options, rails, rod holders, etc. It should also be portable.



  • Reviews on customer service- Check what other buyers are saying about the company’s customer service. And buy from a company with a good reputation to enjoy after-sale support.

2.    Get the necessary gear

A paddle

Once you get the kayak, you will need a paddle to steer it. Invest in a kayak fishing paddle based on your kayak length and width. Taller and wider boats require longer paddles and vice versa.

Apart from the size, consider the style and material of the paddle. You should be ready to spend extra for a lighter carbon fiber paddle. They make it fun to steer the boat with less fatigue on your wrist and joint. However, if your budget doesn’t allow it, go for aluminum shaft paddles with plastic blades. The option is also lightweight and durable.

Paddle leash

Consider getting a paddle leash if your kayak doesn’t come with one. It secures the paddle to an eyelet or a cleat as you fight for the catch.

Personal floatation device (PFD)

A well-fitted kayak fishing PFD, commonly known as a life jacket, is indispensable wear while on water. The fitting should be comfortably snug to keep you safe without restricting movement.

Buy one that is tailor-made for angling as it comes with storage compartments. You can keep some fishing tackles, such as lures, in the pockets to ensure they are within reach.

Moisture-wicking clothes

You should always dress correctly when out in the waters. But, regardless of the weather, put on moisture-wicking clothes when kayak fishing. The wear helps you stay dry as there is a high chance to get wet since you will be fishing closer to the waters.

Safety gear

Apart from the PFD, below are other safety gears to carry when going out for kayak fishing:

  • Dry bags– To keep your tools dry
  • Water– To stay hydrated all day long
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses– Protect you against harmful UV rays
  • First Aid Kit- To help in case of injuries
  • GPS– For navigation while fishing
  • VHF radio– For signaling for rescue emergency and receiving updated weather reports
  • Portable power bank– For charging your electronic devices such as camera, phones, and GPS unit


Anchor helps you stay in one location once your spot a perfect fishing place. If you do not anchor your kayak, it might be difficult to balance your boat as you fish, especially in windy situations.

3.    Start with basic fishing accessories

As you start kayak fishing, there is the temptation to load your vessel with every exciting fishing accessory available. Don’t! Start with little necessary fishing gear, as a lot might confuse you, leave less space to operate from, and ultimately get in your way. 

Limit yourself to;

  • A fish finder
  • Two rod holders
  • Kayak trolley
  • Kayak cooler
  • Outrigger stabilizer
  • Kayak fault
  • Pliers
  • Line cutter
  • A measuring board
  • Safety gear

4.    Take safety precautions

Anything can happen while you are out kayaking. Take the following safety precautions to stay safe while kayak fishing;

  • Go with someone– As you start kayak fishing, it is always best to go with someone experienced who can help in an emergency. They will also help you master the skills faster.


  • Tell someone where you are going- Communicate your adventure location and time to a friend or loved one. Inform them when you will be back so they can call for help in case you fail to turn up.


  • Watch the weather– Weather can suddenly change while you are out on the water. Watch out to avoid being caught in thunderstorms which can be risky for any kayaker. Again, wear protective clothing that will keep you safe if your kayak capsizes.


  • Always be on the lookout– You should always be on the lookout to avoid bumping into powerboats. Also, keep safe by avoiding boating areas in high traffic areas and dark or foggy conditions. If you intend to kayak at night, ensure you have a 360-view light to improve your visibility.


  • Carry a straight blade and put it within reach– Place a straight knife on a seat or PFD to use it if your fishing line or anchor gets caught on something. It allows you to cut it free quickly to prevent your boat from flipping.


  • Be visible– Always go for kayak and paddle colors such as red and orange that are highly visible. If not, have bright lights and flags, wear reflective clothing and PFD, and carry a safety whistle to increase visibility.


  • Always wear your life jacket/PFD– Do not just carry your life jacket; wear it whenever you are on the water. Even if you are good at swimming, an unexpected kayak flip can be fatal.

5.    Build your kayaking skills before bringing your fishing accessories on board

If you are new to kayaking, go to familiar water and practice paddling, anchoring, and positioning your kayak in all weather conditions. Locking these skills before heading on a fishing adventure will help build your experience and confidence.  

Practice paddling quietly with minimum exertion to avoid spooking the fish and getting tired when fishing. It is also best to learn how to steer with one hand. This will help you fight big fish while staying on course or navigating the boat away from obstacles.

6.    Research before going on your first kayak fishing adventure

After learning and mastering the above five tips, you are good to start kayak fishing.

But, do not head out before you research the following:

  • Look for a kayak fishing community near you– Hook up with other anglers through online meetups and social media groups. The community will share tips to help you build your angling experience.


  • Kayak fishing spot- Research good fishing spots near you and the right route in and out of the water to avoid wasting time on your D-day. Also, know whether you will require licensing to fish from that location and prepare accordingly.


  • Target species- Get to know the fish you will likely catch in your preferred location. This will help you understand the right technique and baits and the best time to go fishing.

Key Insights & Takeaways

You are ready to head out for your first angling adventure with the above kayak fishing tips. At first, you might face challenges here and there, but trust me! It gets better with experience.

About the author:

Name: Ally Mash

Bio: A world traveler and outdoor enthusiast, Ally has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty with fellow adventurers like him on Adventures Pursuit!

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